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What is the difference between a list and a tuple in Python?

In Python, both lists and tuples are used to store multiple items, but they have some key differences:

Lists:

  • Lists are defined using square brackets ([]).
  • Lists are mutable, meaning you can modify, add, or remove elements after creation.
  • List elements can be of different data types.
  • Lists support methods like append(), insert(), remove(), and more for manipulation.
  • List operations like concatenation (+), repetition (*), and slicing ([start:end]) are possible.
  • Lists are typically used for storing collections of related items when the order and changeability of elements are important.

Example:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']
fruits.append('grape')

Tuples:

  • Tuples are defined using parentheses (()).
  • Tuples are immutable, meaning you cannot modify their elements once they are assigned.
  • Tuple elements can be of different data types.
  • Tuples support indexing and slicing operations like lists.
  • Tuples are typically used for representing collections of related items that should not be modified, such as coordinates, database records, or function arguments.

Example:

coordinates = (10, 20)
x, y = coordinates

Here are some scenarios where you might choose one over the other:

  • If you have a collection of items that need to be modified or have variable length, a list is a suitable choice.
  • If you have a collection of items that should not be modified or have a fixed length, or you want to ensure the integrity of data, a tuple is a good option.

In summary, the main difference between lists and tuples in Python is that lists are mutable, while tuples are immutable. Lists are often used for dynamic collections, whereas tuples are preferred for static collections or situations where immutability is desired.

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